7 Easy Ways to Reduce Household Costs

Do your bills make you cringe? I know mind do. To me it seems like for every penny I earn there are at least two service providers or bill collectors ready to take it. Yet as I learn to be more financially aware, I’ve come to find that there are a LOT of things my family and I could be doing differently to cut back. With a few lifestyle changes and creative thinking, we could actually have money left over each month to do something we enjoy.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So here’s what we did:

1.Write Down Expenses

Accounting for every penny that comes into your home is ideal for cutting costs. When you see where your money is going you have a better idea of what you need to cut back on. For example, we found that we were spending a great deal on ATM fees. While one transaction may only be $2, if you withdraw from the ATM 10 times per month, that’s $20 plus whatever your actual bank charges you.

2.Shop for Better Insurance Rates

When it comes to costs like auto insurance, you should continually be on the lookout for a better deal. As car insurance providers look to find new business, they offer incentives that might include lower prices, additional services, and so on. Not to mention the fact that an improved credit score can get you a better quote. It’s a good idea to compare insurance rates at least once per year to get savings. This can apply to things like home and/or renters insurance as well.

3.Ditch the Coffee

Okay, so I love my caffeine fix just as much as the next goddess, but when I realized how much my habit was costing me, I had to reconsider. In fact, according to ABC News, the average American spends about $1,100 per year on coffee alone! I could think of a ton of things I could do with that instead. If you need your caffeine fix, invest in a good coffee pot and brew it at home or take advantage of the free stuff from the office.

4.Cut the Cable

On average, we were spending about $200 per month on cable, Internet and telephone services. However, with modern technology, you can watch your favorite movies and shows without a cable subscription. A more affordable alternative might be to pay for Internet service while utilizing a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu. These subscriptions are under $20 a month.

5.Compare Electricity Rates

This one was new to me as I always though you were stuck with the same energy provider, however, new laws provide a bit more flexibility. Deregulation in the U.S. allows residents to choose an energy supplier. Because energy companies now have to compete for your business, the rates are going to be a lot more affordable.

6.Buy Generic

Don’t be afraid of generic brand food items as they can save you a lot of money. Most people assume, you get what you pay for, but store or generic brand products can actually be very good. Since they don’t advertise through commercials and other costly avenues, they can afford to offer you products for less. Of course there’s nothing wrong with having a few brands that you’re loyal to, but if it’s not on sale or you don’t have a coupon, generic versions are usually just as great.

7.Ask

This last one really shocked me, but did you know that many companies have deals to offer and all you have to do to get it is ask. Contact your utility, cell phone, credit card, or car insurance companies and ask them about deals and discounts they have for existing customers. Since they want to keep your business, they’re going to do what they can to get those prices down for you. Whether it’s a one-time deal or an ongoing thing, a penny saved is a penny earned.

If you feel like all you do is work to pay bills, it may be time to give your household budget a once over. When you actually record your spending habits, you get a real understanding of what expenses are draining the most income. From there, it is a matter of coming up with a plan of action to eliminate or reduce the costs. Hopefully, I’ve given you a few ideas to get started.

*This is a partnered post

How to Boost Energy While Driving

I think one of the worst things to have happen while driving, besides having your kids start fighting in the backseat so it sounds like they are literally inside your head, is when you get tired when driving. You could be totally fine one minute and then the next it’s like you are fighting to keep your eyes open. The crazy thing is, at least for me, this doesn’t happen at night when you would think it’d happen. Nope…for me, it happens in the middle of the day. Especially if it is a hazy day. Those days are the worst, for some reason.

When I used to do a lot of driving for work, my energy go to was to eat the Starbucks Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans. I didn’t like the taste of them since I don’t care for coffee all that much, so instead I would swallow them whole. I don’t recommend that. While I did get the major energy boost I was looking for, I also got a horrible stomach ache and a headache. Not to mention, my nice little energy boost disappeared after about 30 minutes and I was left even more tired than I was before eating the coffee beans. Not good!

Like this tip? Check out this article to find out what other tips I have to offer on how to boost your energy while driving. As always, if you have a tip to add, please leave me a comment! I’d love to try it out!

 

Items You Should Pack in Your Car

Do you consider yourself prepared for anything? I’m not talking about having 50 cases of bottled water and dehydrated food, although having extra water on hand like that is not a bad idea. No, I mean in your car for your day to day outings. Are you prepared or whatever life throws at you? What if you are hiking back to your car and as you are opening your car door, a bird poops on your head. Do you have wipes in your car to clean it up? Can you tell that happened to me once and I did NOT have anything to clean it up with? Not fun at all!

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Quick! Write down every single thing you have in your car that is not physically attached to your car. Try to do this from memory and then go out to your car and add anything that you missed. How many are you missing? When I did this, I realized three things. One, I had absolutely no clue what in the world I had in my car; two, I barely had anything useful in my car; and three, my kids have things stashed in every nook and cranny…but none of it is useful at all!

Once you’ve done that, head on over to an article I wrote to see how you match up with the list of items I think everyone needs to have in their car. Especially if you are a mom!

Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Road trips can be so much fun! I remember in high school, a friend and I would go on road trips all the time. At that time, and since we were only 16 and 17 years old and had a curfew, our road trips consisted of driving for like an hour or so, take pictures along the way with a disposable camera and then drive home. We always had a blast! Thankfully, in the 90’s, has was super cheap! We’re talking less than one dollar cheap! No joke! My car literally only cost me about $5 or so to fill up!

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Image source

Now that we have kids, I feel like there has to be so much more thought put into a road trip. We have to have the right drinks for everyone, the right kind of snacks (especially gluten free and tree nut free snacks for me), and games to play in the car. It’s super important to make sure the natives don’t get restless! One piece of advice…don’t give too many drinks in the car…you don’t want to spend the entire road trip stopping at every rest stop! Well…unless you want to take a tour of the rest stops along the way!

Check out this related post for great road trip games to play in the car!

How to Raise Bratty and Entitled Children

Growing up, I had to work. If I wanted to pay for my car or go out with my friends, I had to actually work for it. I was never once handed a credit card and told to go out and have fun. Do you know what it is like to sit at a pool, watching strangers swim and hope that the man wearing the little Speedo, who shouldn’t be wearing that Speedo, doesn’t start drowning because you do NOT want to be doing mouth to mouth on that dude? I do. Now that I’m a parent, I wouldn’t dream of having my children dread that same thing. So I came up with a list of stellar parenting skills that you should incorporate right now so your children never have to endure the life I had to endure growing up.

Two_seiza_kids_watching_TV_NHK-kohaku_by_Note_PC_1seg *Please note that this post is meant to be read in a sarcastic tone…

Buy the Latest Fashion Trends

The shoes at the store are not good enough for your child. I mean, Heaven forbid another child shows up at school with the exact same pair your child is wearing. Oh the horror! Any good parent would hand over their credit card and tell their child to make the best, custom Nike’s they can make. Sure you may be eating Ramon Noodles for a month, but that’s OK. Just so long as Junior is walking around in a pair of shoes that not another person on this planet is wearing! And hey, you never know…Nike might like their custom model so much that they decide to put it in production. Better get that credit card out again. Junior needs a new pair!

No Supervision with the Internet

Your child wants his own computer. Sure. That sounds like a good idea. I mean, they are at that age where they will need to be researching for papers and typing those papers for school. They also need a quite room to do their research so be sure to get them their own desk for their room where their brand new laptop can sit. Don’t worry, they will be researching their paper topic at all times. You don’t have to worry about them watching inappropriate videos online. They aren’t interested in those things at all.

Make Excuses for Bad Behavior

Did that other parent honestly have the nerve to say that your perfect child did something wrong? How dare they even suggest that. Definitely let them know that they are mistaken. I mean, you asked Junior about it and Junior said it wasn’t true. If Junior says it’s not true, then that means it’s not true. Also, when a teacher calls home to tell you that Junior is misbehaving in class, blame the teacher. It’s always the teachers fault.

Allow Inappropriate Video Games

Censorship…in my house? Of course not! The ages on the back of the video games are merely a suggestion. By all means, if your kid wants to play Grand Theft Auto and pick up a hooker in the game, by all means, they should be allowed to. You never know when your child may need those sniper skills he’s mastered from hours of playing Call of Duty.

Jump in and Save the Day

Did Junior forget his homework at home? Don’t let him suffer the unnecessary consequences at school. Quick, jump in your car and run it up to him. He’ll remember it next time. Plus, you wouldn’t want his grade to be lowered just because he forgot something. We all forget things from time to time. Things like natural consequences are lessons that “crunchy parents” are trying to teach their kids. Kids have plenty of time for those lessons.

Chores and Allowances

Make a beautiful chore chart and display it on your fridge. Make sure you highlight with Junior exactly what he needs to do to get his allowance at the end of the week. Don’t make things too difficult. When the end of the week comes and you’ve discovered that Junior didn’t complete his chores for the week, cut him some slack and still give him his allowance. I mean, he did most of it, right?

Unlimited Screen Time

Definitely encourage screen time. In fact, set up a contest and see who can get the most screen time in one week. It’s ridiculous what all these studies are saying about kids and screen time. Shoot, we watched hours of television a day and we turned out just fine. Don’t be one of “those” parents that only allows two hours of screen time a day. Those parents must really hate their children.

Remember…this is all for the greater good. We do not want our children to have to grow up working for things they really want. It is far better to hand them everything they want. Happy child = Happy Home!

Please leave me a comment and tell me what we should add to the list!